As children we discovered that clay can be shaped into any form simply by shoving both hands into the stuff. Most of us have learned no such thing about the computer.
— Alan Kay
In a Nutshell
Plato is a low-code platform for self-serve internal tools, letting operations teams sidestep engineers by building their own tools without coding. It's the Airtable of internal tools. We're a well-funded seed stage company with a revenue generating product, and we seek a founding designer to craft our unique vision for democratizing software development.
Plato’s mission is to turn every information worker, not just the 1% who are programmers, into literate authors of their own tools.
Why would everyone need to build tools? Surely programmers will always be better equipped. But this is like wondering why everyone would need to know English. Surely professional authors will always be better writers. Just as everyone has unique ideas that only they can express in language, everyone has a unique job that only they can model in software.
Today, these jobs are most often found in operations teams at Software-Enabled Services (SES) companies such as those in logistics and ecommerce and fintech. When a freight operator at Flexport receives a new customs requirement, it must be modeled, encoded in business rules, then translated into tasks for the shippers. They could pass this off the engineering team, blocking new business. Or they could use Plato.
Since the birth of personal computing, projects from Smalltalk to Squeak to HyperCard to VisiCalc have laid the groundwork for a Gutenberg Revolution that will democratize the connection of mind to machine. This is Plato’s lineage.
Today’s low-code revolution promises to fulfill this prophecy. It represents a mass migration, on the same scale of the shift to the cloud, where vertical apps are unbundled into baskets of composable capabilities, and horizontal platforms enable the creation of entirely new software that integrates those capabilities across application boundaries.
But today’s low-code platforms fall short. Those marketed toward programmers merely repackage a traditional development environment with a facade of WYSIWYG, whereas those marketed toward a broader audience offer “building blocks” that fail to approach the computing power of code. No product has yet to achieve the stepwise leap in power that Visicalc managed forty years ago.
Plato is a platform for self-serve internal tools. We compete with Retool, but our product is more similar to Airtable. Engineers connect and secure their internal databases and APIs, then Plato provides a safe sandbox for operators to build their own tools for managing product catalogs or tracking inventory or delegating tasks or automating the scheduling of doctor appointments, all without coding.
It’s designed for all, yet retains full programming power by introducing novel techniques for codeless programming.
Plato’s unique approach is based on a visual computing principle known as Programming by Example. Users automate a process not by writing down its steps, as they would with code, but by recording themselves taking those steps in the app. Programming by Example is by far the most accessible visual computing technique and the key to unlocking computing for the other 99% of information workers.
Inquire within for more AI-assisted Russian sung ukelele performances.
Plato is founded by Michael Gummelt, a former cofounder of Heap Analytics, and a Stanford CS alumnus. While at Stanford, Michael conducted research in the UI of programming languages, laying the groundwork for Plato.
Michael is joined by fellow engineers Stanislav, Alexey, Felipe, and Kevin. We’re a fully remote yet tight knit and friendly team.
To stay connected, we love to share virtual meals to geek out on the Future of Coding while taking breaks to play video games and philosophize (inspired by our namesake). We are all itching to meet our lead designer.
Plato is seed stage company, well funded by South Park Commons and A.Capital, with participation from SV Angel, Quiet Capital, and Charlie Cheever.
Founding Designer Role
This role is unique. Programming by Example is a greenfield technique, so you will not just be applying existing interaction patterns, but also inventing new ones. We have a working product, with customers in production, but many of our core features still need to be designed. Your work will be exploratory and problem solving oriented. While Programming by Example has a rich history, it has yet to be applied to web apps.
- Work closely with the company founder to translate the company's vision into an intuitive, beautiful product.
- Be the sole full-time designer but with potential to lead a design team as the company grows.
- Lead user studies and come up with new ideas to improve the design experiences.
- Prototype new flows and test them with users.
- Work closely with engineers to ensure your designs are implemented to your standards.
- Build assets in Figma or the tool of your choice.
- (Optional) Own Plato’s marketing materials, though we are open to pairing you with a brand specialist.
- Experience designing web apps for B2B SaaS (BONUS: experience designing tools for creation).
- While aesthetics and ergonomics are important, you should have a greater interest in solving high-level UX problems.
- While you need not be a programmer, you should be able to intelligently discuss topics such as object-oriented programming, namespaces, scope, variables, and conditionals, as your job will be to bring these ideas to life.
- BONUS: Experience as a founding designer at a seed stage startup.
We’re a well-funded seed stage company offering market salary and above market equity (1-3%). This is a critical position for our company.
- Work from anywhere.
- $5K stipend to build your working environment.
- Flexible working hours. We sync up 9am-1pm PT, but otherwise you’re free to decide when and how you complete your work.
- Continued education stipend.
- Team gaming sessions to celebrate victories.
If solving this problem sounds as exciting to you as it does to us, please reach out to the CEO directly at email@example.com.
Michael Gummelt, CEO